MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The Minnesota Lynx started a new era, though it didn’t count in the official game sense, with a preseason game against the Washington Mystics last Friday night.
No Maya Moore. No Lindsay Whalen. No Rebekkah Brunson, at least not yet. It was the same style of Lynx basketball, just with different faces as they got an 86-79 win over the Mystics.
Sylvia Fowles led Minnesota with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Newly-acquired guard Odyssey Sims had a game-high 20 points and seven assists and rookie Jessica Shepard scored 10 points, grabbed three rebounds and had eight assists.
In her first start since being the understudy to Lindsay Whalen, Danielle Robinson scored 13 points and added five assists as the Lynx had four players in double figures. For a game that didn’t count in the regular season standings, the Lynx played with energy that would suggest otherwise.
“It always counts, so they played like it counted and I really appreciate that about them,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said at practice Tuesday. “They wanted to win possessions, wanted to win the game and played that way. Played with a great deal of energy.”
It may have been a preseason game last Friday for the @minnesotalynx, but they played like it mattered. Coach Cheryl Reeve liked her team’s effort in the win over the Washington Mystics. “They played like it counted.” @FOX9 FOX9 pic.twitter.com/jFty0r1gDK— Jeff Wald (@JeffWaldFox9) May 14, 2019
Sims was impressive in her Lynx debut, shooting 7-of-11 from the field in 29 minutes.
Two Lynx rookies saw extended minutes in the first preseason game. Shepard was 4-of-9 from the field in nearly 22 minutes, and first-round pick Napheesa Collier scored four points on 1-of-3 shooting from the field in 23 minutes.
It will take time with many new faces needing to gel together, but there’s a sense of urgency at Lynx practice this week. They scrimmage Tuesday night, play the Chinese National Team on Wednesday and travel to Las Vegas Saturday for their final preseason game.
Without Moore, Whalen and Brunson, goals are a little different this season. That’s where the leadership with Fowles and Seimone Augustus comes in. They’re a voice for Reeve on the court.
“There’s a lot of that going on. Seimone has done a nice job of that, Syl’s done that. It’s nice that it’s not me,” Reeve said. “They say it much nicer than I would so it’s definitely good that it’s them.”
Things get real on Saturday, May 25, when the Lynx open the 2019 season hosting the Chicago Sky at Target Center.
“Just being comfortable now and performing as opposed to just trying to survive because you don’t know what’s going on. You should know what’s going on, now you’re performing,” Reeve said. “That’s what we’re hoping for on Sunday.”
The Lynx are coming off an 18-16 season in 2018 and were eliminated by the L.A. Sparks in the playoffs. The Lynx have been in the WNBA Finals in six of the past eight seasons, with four championships. They’ve been a playoff team eight straight years.